Last year (2010-11), Cal State Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell recruited eight freshmen players into the Matador basketball program. This year, the trend continues. Braswell has brought in another seven freshmen and along with two redshirt freshmen from 2010-11. Cal State Northridge is the youngest team among more than 330 NCAA Division I schools in the country. Of the 18 players on this year's roster, there are only 12 years of collegiate basketball experience, an average of 0.67 years. UC Irvine is second nationally at 0.69 years. Navy is second nationally at 0.70 years. These statistics factor in the team's total years of previous collegiate experience with the number of players on the roster.
The 18-man Matador roster has only three seniors and NO juniors. The rest of the team is composed of underclassmen (six sophomores, seven freshmen, two redshirt freshmen).
Cal State Northridge will obviously be a young, energetic team in 2011-12 that will have to compensate for the loss of graduated seniors Lenny Daniel and Rashaun McLemore who dominated the scoring and rebounding load for CSUN last year. Daniel proved to be one of the best players in the modern era of Matador basketball. Daniel finished his two-year CSUN career (2009-10 and 2010-11) with his name appearing 13 times in the CSUN record book. Last year, Daniel averaged 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Daniel led the Big West Conference in field goal percentage (.564), was third in rebounding (9.4 rpg) and blocks (38, 1.2 bpg) and fourth in scoring (16.4 ppg). Daniel produced 17 double-doubles during the year, and grabbed ten or more rebounds in 18 games, including a career-high 15 rebounds against Air Force.
McLemore chipped in 14.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
For their efforts, Daniel gained first team All-Big West Conference honors while McLemore gained second team accolades.
Frankie Eteuati (6-10, 190, Sophomore, Center, Los Angeles, Ca) will be relied upon to help patrol the boards for Cal State Northridge in 2011-12. Eteuati is CSUN's tallest player on the 16-man roster who finished with 21 blocks in 2010-11, eighth-best on the team. His best rebounding game was seven against Cal State Bakersfield. Other veteran frontline returnees include John Hayward-Mayhew (6-8, 220, Senior, Forward, Eugene, Or), Thomas Jacobs (6-6, 215, Sophomore, Forward, San Diego, Ca) and Jordan Mitchell (6-9, 210, Sophomore, Forward, Gardena, Ca). Hayward-Mayhew was a starter in five games last year and that included a seven-rebound performance against UCLA in the season opener. Jacobs came on strong during the final six games of the 2010-11 season. Jacobs averaged 6.2 rebounds per game during that span including a season-high nine boards at Eastern Washington and eight boards against Big West Conference champion UC Santa Barbara. Mitchell was a starter in 13 of the last 16 games of the 2010-11 campaign.
The list of newcomers includes Ari Feldman (6-9, 220, Senior, Forward/Center, Santa Monica, Ca), Stephen Maxwell (6-5, 215, Freshman, Forward, Woodland Hills), Trevone Williams (6-6, 220, Freshman, Forward, Los Angeles, Ca) and Teddy Agbonwaneten (6-3, 215, Freshman, Forward, Los Angeles, Ca). Feldman originally began his CSUN career as a member of the nationally-ranked Matadors volleyball team. Maxwell hails from Taft High School (Woodland Hills, Ca) where he gained all-league and all-city honors. Williams gained numerous honors in helping Westchester High School (Los Angeles, Ca) to a 115-12 record during his four-year tenure. Agbonwaneten is a small forward from Bravo Medical Magnet School.
The Matador backcourt will certainly be a strength of the team in 2011-12. Vinnie McGhee (5-10, 170, Senior, Guard, Oakland, Ca), Josh Greene (6-0, 180, Sophomore, Guard, Los Angeles, Ca), Aqeel Quinn (6-4, 190, Sophomore, Guard), Lawndale, Ca and Allen Jiles IV (6-4, 200, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, Los Angeles, Ca) will form the nucleus of a strong backcourt in 2011-12. McGhee is a two-year veteran (62 games, 27 as a starter) who has the ability to play both the off-guard and point-guard positions for Cal State Northridge. McGhee was the team leader in three-pointers (51) last year for Cal State Northridge. In 25 of the 32 games, McGhee produced at least one three-pointer. McGhee can score and pass the ball by evidence of his season-high 20 points against Cal Poly and his career-high eight assists against UC Davis. As the season progressed in 2011-12, Greene got better and better. Greene, a shooting-guard, scored in double-digits in eight games including a season-high 19 points (6-for-8 from the 3-point territory including the game winner with 24 seconds remaining) at Cal State Fullerton and 17 points in 22 minutes of play against UC Riverside. Greene shot .827 from the free throw line. Quinn, a point-guard, can shoot. In the last 16 games of the 2010-11 season, Quinn hit .483 (14-for-29) from behind the arc. Jiles is a defensive standout who proved to be a valuable reserve in 2010-11.
The list of new guards is outstanding. The list includes Allan Guei (5-9, 160, Freshman, Guard, Compton, Ca), Stephan Hicks (6-5, 190, Guard/Forward, RS Freshman, Thousand Oaks, Ca), Davon Potts (6-2, 175, Freshman, Guard, Cerritos, Ca), Lonnie Watson (6-4, 195, Guard/Forward, RS Freshman, Paso Robles, Ca), Justin Yeargin (6-2, 180, Freshman, Guard, Oakland, Ca) and Ishmael Godfrey (5-11, 175, Guard, Hawthorne, Ca). Guei is a lighting-fast point-guard from Compton High School (Los Angeles, Ca) where he averaged 20.1 points, five rebounds, four assists and nearly three steals per game last year. Hicks is a redshirt freshman who can play both the off-guard and forward positions. Potts hails from Gahr High School (Cerritos, Ca) where he led the team to the 2011 CIF Southern Section Division 2A championship, averaging more than 22 points per game. Watson is another redshirt freshman, who like Hicks, can play both the guard and forward positions. Yeargin helped Bishop O'Dowd HS (Oakland, Ca) to a 33-2 record, the league title as well as the North Coast Section and Northern California championships last year. Godfrey is quick guard who will depth to the Matador roster.
"There will be a lot of coaching and teaching this year," said Braswell. "We'll have to show a lot of patience but I like the energy of this team. I like the fact they are listening and are coachable."
Let the games begin!!!
Last year, Cal State Northridge men's basketball was pegged to finish eighth in the annual Big West Conference pre-season media poll ... The Matadors proved the experts wrong, finishing alone in third place (9-7) and eventually landing a spot in the semi-finals of the Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim ... This year (2011-12), the pre-season results are the same. Cal State Northridge is predicted to finish eighth in this year's conference. CSUN tallied 61 points to finish just behind UC Davis (63 points) in seventh place, and six points ahead of ninth place UC Irvine (55 points) ... Long Beach State was selected the favorite to claim the 2011-12 Big West men's basketball title. The 49ers collected 20 first-place votes from the 24-member voting panel for a total of 212 points. LBS welcomes back four starters from the 2010-11 squad that finished 22-12 overall and won the Big West regular season title by four games with a 12-4 record ... UC Santa Barbara has presented the biggest roadblock to Long Beach State in its quest to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos have knocked off the 49ers in the Big West Tournament championship game the last two seasons, earning the conference's automatic bid to the Big Dance. UCSB was picked to finish second in this year's media poll, receiving the four remaining first-place votes and 196 points ... Cal Poly was picked third in the poll with 158 points ... Cal State Fullerton finished fourth in the media poll with 131 points, followed by UC Riverside in fifth place with 114 points, Pacific with 91 points in sixth place, UC Davis with 62 points in seventh place, Cal State Northridge in eighth place with 61 points, and UC Irvine with 55 points to finish in ninth place in the media poll.
The University of Hawai'i, a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), returns six letter winners, including three starters from last season's squad that finished 19-13 overall and 8-8 in th WAC ... The Rainbow Warriors are looking for their second straight post-season appearance after competing in the 2011 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and winning its first round game against the University of Portland ... Zane Johnson (6-6, 210, Senior, Guard, Phooenix, Az) is the team's top returning scorer after tallying 15.8 ppg last year ... Vander Joaquim (6-10, 245, Junior, Center, Luanda, Angola) is the team's top returning rebounder ... Joaquim averaged 8.2 boards per game last year ... Monday night's game (11/14/11) against Cal State Northridge will be the season opener for the Rainbow Warriors ... In a 62-56 exhibition victory over Hawai'i Pacific (11/11/11), Johnson scored 21 points along with five rebounds ... Joaquim collected a game-high 13 rebounds.
Challenging is always the trademark of the CSUN basketball schedule, and this year is no exception ... The non-league schedule includes games at Pac-12 schools USC (season opener on Nov. 11, 2011) and at Washington (12/22/11) ... Both the Trojans and Huskies competed in the NCAA Tournament last year ... The CSUN game at USC was the second straight season the Matadors have faced a Pac-12 school in the season opener ... Last year (2010-11), Cal State Northridge opened the regular season at UCLA ... The Matadors will have eleven non-league games in addition to its 16-game Big West Conference schedule ... The conference schedule will open on Dec. 29 against UC Irvine at The Matadome.
The final score was a lot closer than the score indicated ... The USC Trojans handed the Matadors a 66-59 loss in the season opener for both teams (11/11/11) at the Galen Center ... It was a contest the Matadors could have won ... The Matadors displayed an amazing display of toughness, determination and pride even after they struggled with some early game scoring problems to dig themselves an early ditch ... "I was really proud of the team," said Matador head coach Bobby Braswell. "I thought we had a great effort tonight. Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job of mixing it up. But we couldn't make shots early and give credit to USC. Some of our early misses were shots we normally make." ... Cal State Northridge started the game missing its first nine shots, and at one point was 1-for-17 from the field. The shooting woes helped the Trojans build a 23-10 lead with 4:19 lead in the first half ... But CSUN refused to fold cutting the USC lead to only six points at 25-19 with 1:20 remaining before halftime ... Cal State Northridge was only down, 29-21, at halftime despite the fact CSUN hit only 4-of-29 shots from the floor for 14 percent. USC shot 42 percent (10-for-24) ... The Matadors readjusted at halftime and demonstrated to the Trojans they were here to compete and possibly beat the Trojans for a second straight time in the six-game series ... And compete CSUN did ... Vinnie McGhee helped sparked the Matador comeback. Eight straight points by the senior guard including two three-pointers gave CSUN its first lead of the game, 52-50 with 5:25 to play ... Then Stephan Hicks, who tallied a game-high 19 points in his first collegiate game, scored on a layup with 4:49 to play to give the Matadors a 54-50, their biggest lead of the game ... But USC regained the momentum by scoring eight straight points to take a 58-54 lead with 2:17 remaining ... Cal State Northridge cut the margin to two points, 61-69, on two free throws by Thomas Jacobs with 1:16 remaining ... But USC, a team that featured two seven-footers, was able to pull away to seal the seven-point win, 66-59 ... In addition to Hicks' game-high 19 points, the redshirt freshman added a team-high eight rebounds.
During the past four seasons, Cal State Northridge basketball has been featured prominently on television (29 times to be exact), including games on CBS, Fox Sports Net and ESPNU ... During CSUN's march to the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09, Matador games were televised a school record nine times ... Matador basketball fans will have the opportunity to see Cal State Northridge three times on television during the 2011-12 men's basketball season ... On November 15, the Matadors will be featured nationally on ESPN against the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. The game will air at 1 a.m. Pacific Time (11 p.m. HT, November 14) at the Stan Sheriff Arena ... Then on January 21, 2012 when the Matadors travel to Cal Poly, the Big West game will be televised on Fox Sports Net (Prime Ticket) at 5:30 p.m. ... On February 25, the Matadors conference game at UC Irvine will be televised on Fox Sports Net (Prime Ticket). Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ... Depending on the team's success in 2011-12, the Matadors could be featured another two times on television. That would include a "Wild Card" selected game on Saturday, February 4, when the Matadors travel to Big West Conference favorite Long Beach State at 7:30 p.m. The game could be televised either on ESPNU or Fox Sports West. Other games also under consideration on February 4 are UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis at UC Riverside, or Pacific at UC Irvine ... Another possible telecast would be on Saturday, February 18, when Cal State Northridge participates in the tenth annual ESPN sponsored SEARS BracketBusters event. Thirteen nationally televised contests will be selected from a pool of 142 teams from 16 conferences and will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3. The SEARS BracketBusters matchups, game times and network assignments will be announced on Monday, January 30.